In over thirty years of church planting, I’ve seen just about every configuration of the Body of Christ. Depending on the situation in the country we served, we didn’t always have the option of trying new things. Sometimes we had to go with the status quo of outward appearances of the local church in order to begin to make a difference in the lives of believers. Even then, pouring into the lives of young believers was still enough to stir things up and sometimes lead established leaders to feel threatened.
Don’t be afraid to rock the boat.
Thankfully, not every situation was the same, and when we arrived in a country where there was no established church presence, we prayerfully sought the Lord’s guidance through Scripture in how to plant those first baby church seeds.
We chose to build leaders by giving everyone a chance to lead.
Whether a person had been a believer for a year or just two weeks, the same Holy Spirit was able to speak through one just as well as the other. As they took turns sharing how God had spoken to them through a particular passage, the conversation began, allowing not only my husband but every other believer to contribute their thoughts. This allowed for accountability and questioning of anything that perhaps didn’t fit within the guidelines of Scripture. Never in a condemning or condescending way, but in a molding and shaping way—using Scripture to interpret Scripture and test teaching.
Some of the most moving moments for me were found in listening to those brand-spanking new believers speak truth to the Word. Not yet fully discipled or mature in their faith, they still had insights into a verse or passage that comes with childlike faith. Being decades ahead in my walk had dulled my senses to some of the beauty of those early days with the Lord. Their new faith built my own.
Sharing the podium multiplies future leaders.
Not everyone who shared at the weekly meeting would continue to mature into a future leader, but everyone knew that serving was part of Body life. Those who did hunger for deeper study in the Word and even sometimes into theological studies were easy to spot and became our focus in training. When groups grew and split naturally due to space issues, we had leaders to guide them, modeling the same method of shared leadership.
Sharing the podium was a natural barrier against outside attack.
When no one person is the constant presence of the Body, then attempts to sabotage the gathering by taking away the “leader” fail. This will obviously not be the case in all countries, but it is a reality in more than we care to count. The church can scatter and still survive because every member knows how to lead.
What we model is what they learn.
One of the greatest hindrances to planting strong indigenous churches is when we model our cultural church norms rather than those based on Scripture. Don’t be afraid to break out of the mold and plant a church that looks more like the churches in the book of Acts and less like Main Street, USA. Let go of the podium by His …
Grace and Peace